Valentine’s Day

The Origin of Valentine’s Day

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While not thought to be directly related to modern Valentine’s Day traditions, the beginnings of celebrating love (of a sort) in February date back to the Romans. The feast of Lupercalia was a pagan fertility and health festival, observed from February 13th through the 15th, that was celebrated at least as far back as 44 BCE (the year Julius Caesar was assassinated). Some historians believe it goes back even further, though with possibly a different name.

Connected to the Roman god Lupercus, (the equivalent to the Greek god Pan), the festival was originally supposed to be about shepherds and bringing health and fertility to their sheep and cows. When it became more ingrained into Roman culture, it additionally celebrated Lupa (also another possible reason it is named what it is), the she-wolf who nursed the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, to health. Religious offerings happened at the cave on Palatine Hill, the place where Rome was thought to be founded.

The ceremonies were filled with animal sacrifices, the wearing of goat skins, and nudity. Priests would lead sacrifices of goats and young dogs, animals who were thought to have a “strong sexual instinct.” Afterwards, a feast would occur with lots of wine flowing. When everyone was fat and happy, the men would shed their clothes, drape the goat skins from the earlier sacrifice on their naked bodies, and run around the city striking naked women.

As Plutarch described:

Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.

It has also been speculated that there was match-making that went on during the feast, akin to what people did at festivals during the Middle Ages. Whether the original feast had it or not, later, young men would draw names of young woman, randomly pairing up one another during the feast. If the pairing was agreeable, a marriage could potentially be arranged. If not, well, they broke up.

As the years went by, the feast of Lupercalia was celebrated less by the higher class and the aristocratic and enjoyed almost exclusively by the working class. In fact, the wealthy would insult one another by telling each other to attend the feast of Lupercalia.

In the fifth century, Pope Hilary tried to get the festival banned due to it being a pagan ritual and unchristian. At the end of the fifth century (appx 496 AD), Pope Gelasius I did end up banning it. In a long letter sent to all Roman nobility who wanted the festival to continue, he stated, “If you assert that this rite has salutary force, celebrate it yourselves in the ancestral fashion; run nude yourselves that you may properly carry out the mockery.”

Pope Gelasius also established a much more Christian celebration and declared it would be honored on February 14th – a feast in which St. Valentine would be the patron saint.

Between the second and eighth centuries, the name Valentine was actually rather common…

This Retriever Is Obsessed With Giving Hugs To Everyone He Meets

If you’re in need of a hug this Valentine’s Day, you better head to Chelsea in New York City, where you can meet Louboutina, the NYC’s celebrity hugging dog with more than 58k followers on her Instagram account. The Golden Retriever, who is named after a French shoe designer, spends around 2 hours a day hugging people she meets on her walk. “It’s just not a regular walk,” her owner, 45-year-old Fernandez-Chavez, told The Dodo. “It’s a walk with hugging.” He adds: “A lot of people say she’s made their day… Like, if they had a bad day at work, maybe that’s just what they needed.”

It all started around Valentine’s Day in 2014, when Loubie started holding hands with her owner just after he had ended a relationship. “She started sitting up and grabbing my hands with both of her paws, and then crossing the other paw over her paw,” Fernandez-Chavez said. “I remember joking with my friends, ‘At least I have someone to hold hands with during Valentine’s.’”

This Valentine’s Day, Enjoy Chocolate Ramen in Tokyo

Japan’s soup scene is not for the faint of heart (or stomach). Adventurous foodies can devour massive bowls of ramen for cash prizes, eat ramen ice cream, and even soak in noodle baths—so it shouldn’t be too surprising that one prominent ramen chain, Menya Musashi, honors Valentine’s Day each February by serving up chocolate noodle soup at select locations.

RocketNews24 reports that the savory-sweet special is available during the first two weeks of the month, and changes slightly every year. To make the soup, Menya Musashi uses a brand of chocolate called…

10 Science-y Valentine’s Day Gifts

This Valentine’s Day, show your love with the help of science. These nerdy gifts take their inspiration from laboratories and science classrooms.

Instead of giving your partner the standard assortment of flowers, give them this bouquet of plush germs. The pack includes cuddly chlamydia, herpes, and mono. There’s two of each, so you can share.

Find it: ThinkGeek

Way, way out in space (7500 light years from Earth), there is a very romantic nebula that gives off red gas and looks like a heart. Uncommon Goods put the aptly named Heart Nebula (which is part of the Heart and Soul complex) on a pair of cufflinks to create the perfect gift for astronomers and space enthusiasts.

Find it: UncommonGoods

Scientific minds like to break things down and examine them from every angle—including kissing. In this book, author Sheril Kirshenbaum looks into the history and science of smooching, from when humans first started puckering up to why men and women kiss differently.

When this coaster…

Give Your Favorite Astronomer a Heart Nebula Necklace or Cuff Links

This Valentine’s Day, show that special someone you really care with the help of a celestial body that’s 150 arcminutes in size and glows intense, red gas. The Heart Nebula, which is just a short 7500 light years from Earth, is easily the most romantic of all the nebulas thanks to its darling shape. Maryland-based artist Lauren Beacham (known for her space jewelry)…

11 Sweet Facts About Cadbury

To sugar-lovers stateside, Cadbury is best known as the maker of the cream-filled eggs that appear in stores each spring for Easter. But their full lineup of sweets includes close to 100 products that are beloved in the UK and around the world. Here are 11 decadent facts about the candy brand.

1. IT STARTED AS A DRINKING CHOCOLATE BUSINESS.

Cadbury advertisement from 1885. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Before it was an international corporation, Cadbury got its start as a humble grocery store. In 1824, John Cadbury opened a shop in Birmingham, England where he sold, among other goods, cocoa and drinking chocolate he ground by hand. The beverage was initially marketed as a health drink, and it was often served with lentils or barley mixed in. He opened up a full-fledged chocolate factory in 1841, and by the following year he was selling 11 types of cocoa and 16 varieties of drinking chocolate. Solid “eating chocolate” only came about years later as a way for the company to utilize the cocoa butter left over from the cocoa-making process.

2. CADBURY MADE CHOCOLATE FOR QUEEN VICTORIA.

The Cadbury company was just a few decades old when it was deemed fit for royalty. John Cadbury and his brother and business partner, Benjamin, received a Royal Warrant to assume the role of “manufacturers of cocoa and chocolate to Queen Victoria” in 1855. Today the company continues to hold a Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth II.

3. THE COMPANY INVENTED THE HEART-SHAPED CHOCOLATE BOX.

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Heart-shaped chocolate boxes are nearly as old as the commercialization of Valentine’s Day itself, and that’s thanks to Richard Cadbury. By the mid-19th century, exchanging gifts and cards with loved ones had become a popular practice around the holiday. Chocolate became part of the tradition by way of Cadbury’s romantic chocolate boxes. Richard, son of company founder John Cadbury, had the brilliant idea to package his confections in heart-shaped boxes embellished with cupids and roses in 1861. Customers could use the fancy boxes to store keepsakes long after the contents were consumed.

4. “RATION CHOCOLATE” WAS SOLD DURING WORLD WAR II.

Like many European businesses, Cadbury was forced to make sacrifices during the Second World War. When the British government banned fresh milk in 1941, the company stopped production on its Dairy Milk bars. Ration Chocolate, made from dried skim milk powder, was released as a cheap substitute.

5. THE FIRST CADBURY EGG APPEARED IN THE 19TH CENTURY.

Cadbury factory workers decorating Easter eggs in 1932. Image credit: Getty

Cadbury’s connection to chocolate…

20 Funny Valentine’s Day Cards to Give Your Loved Ones

Show how much you care by giving your loved one the gift of laughter.

So excited for the holiday that you can’t filter your cursing? Then this uncensored card is for you (the black bar is not printed on the card).

Found a fiery love affair online? Send them a punny card to celebrate the sparks the two of you share.

Dachshund lovers will get a kick out of this artful card from Paper Source.

Find it: Paper Source

No robot is more charming than the friendly BMO from the popular cartoon

Adventure Time.

For some people, a festive treat; for others, heart-shaped chalk.

Find it: Etsy

Valentine’s Day can be a little spooky with a Stranger Things-themed card.

Not ready to say “I love you”? A simple “I love… hanging with you” will suffice for now.

Order Your Valentine’s Day Flowers Now To Score the Best Deal,

Love is free, but romance isn’t—especially right around Valentine’s Day, when an order of a dozen red roses can cost upwards of $45. A simple explanation for their high sticker price is that florists profit from high seasonal demand, but e-coupon website Brad’s Deals found the story to be a little more complicated. They spoke with representatives from online floral companies, who explained the hidden costs involved in your purchase.

According to Brad’s Deals, 250 million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day every year. To meet this increased demand, flower factories hire additional harvesters and deploy extra trucks and airplanes to transport the blossoms, which costs them money. Also, don’t forget roses aren’t in season: Valentine’s flowers are often imported…

Donate $10 —and Make Idris Elba Your Valentine

Idris Elba is a man of many talents: a Golden Globe-winning actor, in-demand musician/DJ/producer, part-time fashion designer, anti-crime crusader, land speed record-holder, activist, and—if the odds are in your favor this year—possibly your Valentine’s Day date.

Omaze, a charitable website that auctions off once-in-a-lifetime hangs with A-list celebrities for good causes, has just teamed up with the talented star of The Wire and Luther to make Valentine’s Day 2017 one you’ll be telling your grandkids about—and it’s all for a great cause.

For every $10 you donate to Omaze’s “Be Idris Elba’s Valentine” campaign, you’ll be entered to win the grand prize: a candlelit dinner with Elba at one of his…